Shepherd FGRA CBE OBE
Shepherd - "to start with, my life was a series of
disasters". Growing up in the 1930s, his one
ambition was to be a game warden in Kenya and so, on leaving
school, he went to Kenya and was promptly told by the National
Parks people that he was not wanted. On returning to England,
David was faced with two choices. One was to drive
a bus for a living and the other was to pursue the
only other possibility: painting. However, he admits that
he had very little interest in art and certainly no talent;
for he was promptly rejected by the Slade School of Fine
Art as untrainable.
By chance, he met Robin Goodwin, a professional artist,
who took him under his wing, David believes as a challenge!
After three years with Robin Goodwin, he started his artistic
career pursuing his first two loves, steam engines and aviation.
It was the latter that led him to the Royal Air Force who
began to fly him around the world as their guest and it
was a trip to Aden in 1960 which changed his life. It seemed
that almost everyone wanted a painting, but, more important
still, the Royal Air Force flew him down to Kenya where
he was commissioned by them to paint his very first wildlife
painting and his career never looked back from that moment.
It was on that same visit that he became a conservationist
after finding 255 dead zebra around a poisoned water hole.
On returning to London, he had his first one-man show of
wildlife paintings. The exhibition sold out in the first
twenty minutes and he has not looked back since! Apart from
the tremendous demand for his originals, a number of which
he donates to wildlife through The David Shepherd Conservation
Foundation, to pay back what, in his own words, is my enormous
debt to the animals I paint, his published work is avidly
David's passion for steam locomotives is well known, and
in 1967 he purchased two 120 ton main line steam locomotives,
Black Prince and The Green Knight
and founded The East Somerset Railway, at Cranmore, Somerset,
a registered charity and fully operational steam railway.
His latest venture is the presentation to him of a 15F Class
locomotive, even larger than Black Prince, by
South African Railways as a free gift.